Tag Archives: cake

March 2015: Take tea with Taylors of Harrogate


For our third meeting of the year, we were very pleased to welcome Tom from Taylors of Harrogate to talk all things tea.

Taylors – along with its sister company, Bettys of Harrogate – is one of our town’s best-known exports. It has become an internationally famous brand, not least through its Yorkshire Tea, which has become a favourite with a surprising number and range of celebrities.

However, there is much more to Taylors than ordinary tea. Tom talked us through the history of tea drinking, from its accidental discovery to the modern day range available from Taylors. He also passed around a number of tins of tea leaves to allow us to see – and smell – the differences between the varieties. (Hint: do not take a deep inhalation of Imperial Gunpowder Leaf Tea. It smells on fire.)

Tom also challenged us to work out how several different items were connected with Taylors and tea, including a silk handkerchief (another accidental discovery – a sort of early version of a tea bag). He then invited questions from the audience, which were many and varied, covering everything from the tea-blending process (the details are hard to remember, but needless to say it is absolutely meticulous) to the importance of celebrity fans (did you know Yorkshire Tea is the official tea choice of One Direction? This may or may not be true, but with Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson both coming from God’s Own County, a link-up was fairly inevitable. Louis has tweeted about his love of Yorkshire Tea in the past, which has no doubt led to a rise in sales to teenage girls…)

Of course, we couldn’t talk about tea without having a bit of it, so our lovely hostesses obliged – and you can’t have tea without cake, can you? Our members had done us proud again and the selection of cakes and biscuits was delicious.

We must say a huge thank-you to Tom for his talk. Being relatively new to the team and inexperienced compared to some of the other Taylors speakers, he was slightly nervous. Standing up in front of one of our busiest meetings ever – a whopping 80 ladies in the room – probably didn’t help! However, he made the evening very good fun for all of us and had a fantastic sense of humour. We would certainly recommend him to anyone who wants to learn the fine art of tea-making.

NEXT MONTH: Present wrapping. Do you struggle to wrap awkward gifts? Does anything non-rectangular give you nightmares? Find out how to wrap like a pro with Spa Sweethearts WI! Join us on Thursday 9th April, 7.30pm, St George’s Social Club, St George’s Road, Harrogate. Guests £5; members free.

November 2013: Crafts for Christmas


We’ve always known the Spa Sweethearts were a talented bunch, but our November meeting was the first chance many of us had to share our skills.

We had four different work stations set up around the room offering the chance to make a range of festive crafts with help from committee members. Suzanne showed her group how to make gorgeous felt reindeer decorations, Sue and Rachael were decorating fairy cakes with Christmas characters, Bex taught a group of ladies how to create a 3D Christmas pudding and Vicky had a table of card-making kit to keep everyone busy.

While some of the crafts took all evening to complete, others were less time consuming, so many of us had the chance to visit more than one table. As well as learning new skills, it was a good opportunity to meet a few new people and catch up with some we hadn’t spoken to for a while.

Sharing skills is something we’re keen to do more of in the future. If you can make or do something which you think other members may be interested in, we’d love to hear from you – just speak to any committee member or contact us by email.

Meanwhile, the December meeting will be Christmas Greenery, when we’ll be making a table centre to put the finishing touch to your Christmas meals. There are several items you will need to bring for this:

* Scissors/secateurs
* Variegated greenery eg holly, ivy, conifer etc
* Plate/base to put the arrangement on
* Candle
* Ribbon

You can also bring extra items to decorate your display, such as small baubles, ribbons, berries, fir cones, fresh flowers and dried fruit. The oasis blocks you need will be available to buy at £2 each, and guests are welcome to join us for £4 each (plus £2 for oasis, so £6 total).

February 2012: AGM and the Great Sweethearts Bake Off


Is there any better way to spend Valentine’s Day than by eating a lot of cake with some lovely people, and then judging them for their skills?

As our February meeting fell on the night when a lot of strange people want to spend time with their loved ones, we were unsure what sort of crowd we would attract.

We needn’t have worried, however – our fabulous bakers and eager tasters turned out in sufficient numbers to ensure a lively evening and a great competition.

The night began with our AGM, which is a vital part of our role as a WI. It was nothing too onerous, however: a bit of an update on our finances, a look back on our first year-and-a-bit together, and a talk about where our annual membership money goes from Carol Ambler, one of the wonderful federation advisers who helped us to get started in those early days.

We were then introduced to the committee members (most people probably had no idea who they were because they spend every meeting running around like lunatics!) and a vote was taken on who our president should be for the coming year. The lovely Bex Brown was re-elected by a landslide, which we were thrilled about – she has been the heart and soul of the group since it began and works incredibly hard to make it all run smoothly. Of course, she has the backing of a great committee to help her out!

After the business of the night was complete, we moved on to the bake-off. The instructions had been simple: bake something and bring it with you. The result was an incredible array of sweet things, from biscuits to brownies, and lemon drizzle to loaf cakes, to suit all tastes.

With so many entries, we decided to split the competition in two: large cakes (ie one big cake which required slicing) and small cakes/biscuits. Everyone was encouraged to try as many different samples as possible and then to vote for their favourite in each category.

Incredibly, almost every entry got at least one vote, showing that a good cake really is a matter of taste. All of the entries showed a lot of skill and time had gone into the competition – you would expect no less from the WI! However, there could only be one winner – or, in this case, four winners and a best in show.

We chose a runner up and a winner in each category. The overall winner, with the most votes out of both categories, was Debs Wynn. She had baked an incredible raspberry cheesecake with brownie base, using the very clever tactic of including a range of delicious cakey elements to try to please as many people as possible. Each category winner was given a first place rosette, while Debs got a special Best in Show rosette.

It was a very successful first AGM and bake-off, as well as a brilliant way to spend Valentine’s Day. Roll on next year!